It started, as many flame wars and religious debacles do, with an internet forum post.
I was writing something – I don’t even remember what exactly I was writing about, as usual for me the process of writing was more important than the specific subject – and it suddenly occurred to me just how much I missed writing scooter and motorcycle articles.
For several years you see, I had been lucky enough to write pieces on an occasional basis for Rob Harris of Canada Moto Guide – starting with a piece way back about my experience riding the Mad Bastard Scooter Rally which you can read on the CMG site here: http://canadamotoguide.com/2009/07/03/mad-bastard-2009-a-riders-perspective/
This led to a rather strange and wonderful editor/writer relationship with Rob – half the time I’d get an email or a phone call asking me to do an article, and the other half of the time I’d be pitching some strange idea that I had gotten for an article.
This continued for several years – and led to several great, strange and occasionally terrifying experiences on a variety of machines. For a while I tended to be the scooter and sidecar guy, since I was one of the rare breed of rider enthusiastic about both.
And then things changed – for everyone.
And then – in a tragedy for his family, for his friends and for the entire motorcycling community in Canada – Rob Harris passed away in 2016 an accident while riding on a rally in Ontario.
My motorcycle writing had been very much up to this point (aside from some forum posts) a part of my friendship with Rob, and my writing for CMG didn’t continue on past that point – I wasn’t as familiar with the others now running CMG (aside from occasionally reading the excellent writing of Mark Richardson of course, who was a longtime CMG contributor and now of course is the editor of CMG.)
I wasn’t sure if I should approach them for new article, I wasn’t sure if my particular style suited the direction CMG would take going forward, or if my somewhat unusual style or love of strange things like sidecar motorcycles and scooters would find the same traction as it had with Rob. So for a while, I just didn’t write that much at all.
The urge to write cannot be denied….
And then… as mentioned… I was writing something on the ADVriders scooter forum and I suddenly realized something. I had the domain “scoottoronto.com” – I’d gotten it a decade ago so I had an email domain that wouldn’t be changing every time I changed internet service providers.
So I had a domain, I had a place to put a website, and I felt a need to start writing about my two and three wheeled adventures again – so why not start some kind of magazine/blog/news site thing?
As is usual for me, this started with little planning, little clue of what I was getting into, and a frenzy of ill-advised activity. A logo was designed over the span of a couple of weeks, going back and forth and being tweaked here and there. (I’m not a graphic artist, but I am proud of the Scoottoronto logo.) WordPress was thrown onto the web host and a blog/magazine site was built. A facebook page was added, article planning started and in what seems like a few blinks of an eye but in reality was several weeks of long evening hours… what you can see around you was created.
In my usual ill-advised, badly planned style I have already mentioned – this project also took place in a year where I was renovating my Toronto house and moving out to Oshawa – so technically I probably should be ScootGTA but I’m not changing the domain at this point.
So what have we managed to do in the last year?
As of the writing of this article we have published 23 articles on Scoottoronto.com, or roughly an average of 2 per month. Given this is a one person operation, and we have had to also do some backend work to get the site up and running – a process that never ends it seems – I’m happy with that. Though I hope to get more out to you this year.
In the last 365 days we have had 9,775 visitors who have read 29,768 pages. We’ve blocked several bots, cleared spam from comments, locked down some features and added others.
Out of those visitors, we’ve had 4,827 from the United States, 2,055 from Canada, 556 from France, 259 from the Netherlands, 204 from Germany, 193 from China (which would be a large proportion of bots it would seem), 168 from Israel, 155 from Ireland and 127 from the United Kingdom – as well as a handful from other places. For a Toronto oriented scooter site, we’re actually getting some global visibility – but that was inevitable given our relatively small population and scooter ridership compared to Europe and Asia.
What is the future for Scoottoronto?
More general scooter articles, more travel pieces around Ontario and Canada are definitely in the near future. 2019 will have several pieces on the Mad Bastard Scooter Rally – both preparation and the ride.
I’ll be doing more reviews both Past-due reviews of scooters I have owned in the past and anything new I get my hands on for any length of time. (Though given our smaller readership right now, we may not get too many offers from the major scooter makers to ride their machines but we shall see what happens.)
For the moment I’ll be keeping Scoottoronto a one man show so content won’t be updated daily. Given our ad-free and non-commercial basis we can’t afford to pay writers for their content, and I’m not entirely comfortable not properly compensating writers for their work – even on a voluntary basis.
But even as a part time, one man show – you’re going to see some pieces on Canadian travel, on the MBSR rally, some articles on Ontario events and places to see, and planning for the 2020 Junk Run as well. So you’ll get plenty of scooter content coming your way over 2019.
And that brings us to the most important thing to say at the 1 year mark.
The most important thing we should mention as we celebrate the birthday of Scoottoronto is a thank you to our readers.
I don’t care much about statistics in general – we’re not in the position of looking for ad revenue and we are not looking on this as a money making operation right now. (Who knows for the future we may be able to pay writers and offer more commercial content, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.)
Which means the *only* two reasons that anything gets published here at all is the enjoyment that I get out of having my scooter adventures and writing about them – and (hopefully) the enjoyment you get in reading about them. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my interactions with some of the scooter community since starting this site, and I hope to continue to talk to all of you, exchange emails, and meet in person at various scooter events.
Because without you, the readers, I’m just a guy shouting into a void. And my therapist says I should stop doing that.
Plus the void dwellers keep complaining about the noise.
Happy Birthday to Scoottoronto! Go eat some cake and have a wonderful day… from all of us here. Which is mainly just me, but it sounds better when I say “we”.
(**DISCLAIMER: Cake is not being provided by Scoottoronto, readers have to buy their own. Also your day may be less than wonderful, we cannot guarantee a wonderful day in all cases.)